PHNOM PENH, Feb 6 – Cambodia is set to dispatch troops to join a United Nations peacekeeping force in the conflict- torn West African nation of Mali on Sunday, senior officials said Thursday. “It is the first time that the country sends peacekeepers to Mali under the U.N. umbrella,” Prak Sokhonn, chairman of the National Coordination Committee of U.N. Peacekeeping Operation, said during a meeting with those peacekeepers.
He said some 30 team leaders will leave for Mali on Sunday in order to manage tasks in advance. “The mission in Mali will have high risks because this country has not had stability, so all peacekeepers must pay high attention to their duties,” he advised.
Lt. Gen. Sem Sovanny, general director of the National Center for Peacekeeping Force, said a total of 298 troops will be sent to Mali later this month.
He said the peacekeepers are divided into two groups. One will be responsible for airport repairs and maintenance and the other in charge of explosive ordnance disposal.
Mali was plunged into turmoil after a March 2012 coup that led to an Islamic rebel takeover of large swathes of the West African country and France launched a military operation in January last year to oust them.
Cambodia firstly sent its troops abroad in April, 2006. To date, it has sent about 1,800 peacekeepers to Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, the Central Africa and Lebanon. Most of them have ended their missions and returned home, except those in South Sudan and Lebanon.